Approximately 21% of Americans today have at least one tattoo, a number that seems to be increasing by the year. However, as our lives and priorities change, it’s not uncommon for regret to settle in – particularly as ink begins to fade and life changes.
If you are one of the people who fall out of love with their body art design over time, new technologies have introduced solutions that could remove the burden of regret. Laser tattoo removal is a way to remove unwanted ink quickly, and with minimal side effects. Here, you’ll learn exactly how lasers can remove unwanted artwork from your skin, and how the latest in removal systems are making tattoo removal a more convenient and realistic option for people across the world.
Step One: Understanding the Composition of a Tattoo
Before you can understand how lasers work to remove ink from skin, it’s important to know which materials and compounds those inks contain. According to experts, a number of tattoo inks contain metals such as manganese, copper, lead, and even mercury – substances which can lead to allergic reactions in some people. When the needle of a tattoo gun enters the skin, it deposits this combination of ingredients into the dermis just below the epidermis. Because this process involves damage to the skin, the body reacts automatically with white blood cells, which attempt to absorb the foreign particles and transport them to the liver where they can be disposed of.
Tattoos create a lasting image because the majority of the particles injected into the skin are too large for the white blood cells to move or absorb. Laser tattoo removal works by breaking up these large particles into fragments that can be absorbed and removed from the body through the process of excretion.
Step Two: Choosing the Right Treatment
Depending on the size and composition of the tattoo, laser treatment works differently for different patients. For instance, smaller, older tattoos are often easier to remove, because the ink takes less effort to break down.
All of the pigments used during the tattoo process have different spectra of light absorption, meaning that the laser used must be capable of emitting adequate energy according to the spectrum of the pigment. Often, this means that greens, yellows, and fluorescent inks can be more complicated to remove than darker blue and black pigments, because their absorption spectra falls outside of the emission available by most removal lasers.
Everything from skin tone, to ink quality, tattoo location and, the skill exhibited by the tattooist can have an impact on how difficult a piece of body art will be to remove. This is why tattoo removal experts will work with you to determine the energy density required during laser removal on a personalized basis, and how many sessions will be required before the tattoo begins to fade.
Step 3: Determining the Number of Treatments Required
Aside from the personal factors that may impact the challenge involved in removing your tattoo, the equipment used can also play a vital role. For instance, Pico technology is one of the latest innovations in tattoo removal systems. Rather than using the strategy used in typical tattoo removal — relying upon phyodynamic energy to target and disperse the pigment in the tattoo — Pico Technology utilizes ultra-short high-energy laser pulses to break ink down into microscopic fragments.
Unlike traditional treatments, Pico technology is ideal for removing difficult pigments and recalcitrant tattoos. The machine targets ink while avoiding any unmarked tissue, resulting in less damage to the skin surrounding a tattoo. Over a series of treatments — between 3 and 6 sessions, rather than the 20 sessions required by Q-switched lasers — Pico technology converts the ink into small enough particles for the human body to eliminate.
Pico technology delivers pulses into the skin every trillionth of a second. The quick and short pulses that this strategy uses means that it is suitable for all skin types, and can even treat pigmented lesions such as freckles, senile lentigines (liver spots), and Nevus of Ota.
Scientists have found that shorter pulses within the picosecond domain can be more effective at removing tattoos, as they are able to interact with smaller ink particles than traditional methods. What’s more, clinical trials have shown that short-pulse treatment afforded by systems like Picoway allows for a higher tattoo removal success rate, within a shorter amount of sessions.
Tattoo removal options have become more numerous and advanced as the need for tattoo removal has risen. Laser treatments of today have evolved from painful and potentially harmful concepts, into intelligent methods capable of producing incredible results.
Have you undergone laser tattoo removal treatments in the past? Which options did you find to be the most effective? Let us know in the comments!